10-29-2012, 11:01 AM
Joined: Dec 2009
Location: East Anglia
Day 9 Istanbul to Izmit, Turkey
My prediction came right this morning. I woke up at 11 o clock with a head like thunder. Al was asleep across the room in his bed. We were meant to be checking out by now. I went down stairs to see if they would mind us staying in the room an extra hour or so and predictably Mahmud said "no problem". Just another example of the amazing Turkish hospitality that we had found in Istanbul.
Al lost in an alcohol cloud
Once we were up I thought it only prudent to go grab our fourth kebab in 24 hours and a few teas to settle the uncontrollable shakes I was experiencing.
We got over to Ahmets' at around 2 o clock to find the bike still in bits. This was not a problem as we planned a short day today just to get out of the city and find a camp spot. I sat talking to Ahmet for a while and asked about the rally direction roll that had been put up around the walls and it turns out he rode the 2008 Paris Dakar that never was. The Rally was deemed to dangerous in the form it was previous to 2008, so there was a rally called the Central Europe Rally held in Hungary and Romania and he had ridden in it. He sticks to mechanics now and has been on several as a professional tinkerer of KTM's.
We found the whole experience of Istanbul to be a pleasant one, there were no hawkers overly harassing you to buy their tat, there were no waiters continuously trying to drag you into their overpriced tourist restaurants, everyone had a smile for you and were more than happy to chat with no thought as to how they were going to get a few quid out of your wallet. I have a new favourite country already and we have not seen a fraction of it yet.
We left Istanbul at around 3:30 with the plan of riding for an hour before finding somewhere to camp. Yet again I had forgotten about the traffic around this area. It took us an hour just to get to the real Europe/Asia bridge crossing. Just before the bridge we did come across a GSer on the side of the road broken down. I pulled over to see if he needed help, but he said his mate was close behind and would be ok. He did not seem in a mood to chat so we left him to it. I hope he got back ok:)
As usual I am snapping away with the camera around my neck, when it suddenly dawns on me how far we had ridden and how far we planned still to ride. I think it is an incredible thing that we all do, or aspire to do. It is amazing what you can achieve if you put your mind to it.
After about 3 hours in the saddle we were just a few miles down the road from Istanbul, in a place called Izmit. Al signalled me to pull off and find a camp for the night. It turned out to be my favourite camp of the trip. I rode up a small track and came across a field off to the right. It was actually more like a grassy hill than a field but feeling confident in my ability and my GS I blasted up the hill. It must have been about 300m long and even with the road tyres on I still made it up quite easily.
Looking down the hill we had to come up
Getting off at the top was a different matter though, there was a wood at the top of the hill and as I reached it I realized this was still real steep. It was getting dark and I saw a nice flexible bendy sapling so aimed the nose at it. I braked right next to it and the BM came to a stop and nestled gently against it, job done. No need for the stand tonight.
We found a levelish bit of ground inside the wood and it was tents up as normal.
We then sat in the dark and looked down over the port of Izmit. As normal we did not talk very much to each other but the tension from earlier on in the trip had completely gone. The break in Istanbul had come at a perfect time for us. It let us relax and mellow into the ride and of course, this is what it is all about, silence, a spectacular view, the knowledge that the trip was only really just beginning and we still had numerous places and people to visit and see.
The view from the camp
How could life be any better?